Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Magical Inferno of Main Street

Ah, Main Street, U.S.A... the spirit and heartbeat of an America gone by. Reminiscent of Walt Disney's childhood hometown, Marceline, Missouri, this bustling little facade plays host to quaint little shops, a bakery, a candy store, a barber shop, an ice cream parlour, and even a little corner where you can order up a hot dog and corn dog nuggets.

What many people don't realize, however, is that Main Street has so much more to offer. For example, the Crystal Arts shop doubles as a workplace for Arribas Brothers artisans. The merchandise in the shop itself is absolutely beautiful, but if you happen to wander towards the back of the store, you'll come across a hidden treasure: a glassblowing workshop. At the right time of day, you can catch a glassblower here, mastering his art and more than willing to answer any questions you may have about his creations and work.

The products made here are actually sold in the shop, and you can watch it's creation from beginning to end. I found it fascinating to watch him use heat and a tube to inflate a little glass balloon. I didn't think to take pictures until he was almost finished, but basically, he blew the glass into a cylinder shape and flattened the bottom, heating every now and again as he went. I missed the very beginning of the demonstration, so I'm not exactly sure what it looked like when he started or when the coloration took place, but the top was black and the bottom red, in order to make the piece look like Mickey's pants. Once the glass was the right size, he carefully cracked the top and broke it off of the pole it was attached to. He heated another pole, which was inserted into the bottom, and flattened the now rough edge around the top, shaping it into the mouth of the glass.
Then he was able to add the little buttons on the front to make it look like Mickey's pants by heating them individually and pressing them on, heating them further afterwards to ensure secure placement. He also melted another piece of glass, which he twisted into a handle and attached to the side (which is what he is doing in the photo above).
Once all of the necessary additions are made, the piece is complete and it's time to pop it off of the pole and heat the bottom to smooth it out.
I was surprised at how easily it came off, but then again, he is a professional who's been blowing glass for probably as long as I've been alive...
The final product gets to chill in a freezer/refrigerator-looking closet-like compartment until the next morning, but there are pieces on display for you to check out and purchase, if you feel so inclined.
There were pieces representing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, several ornaments, and more! It really is quite neat to see and if you have a few seconds, I highly recommend checking it out! I might need one of those Donald vases with the little bow tie... too cute!

If you'd like to look into the glassblowing a little more, the Disney Park Blog has a great little video and article... Glass Art Remains Unique at Disney Parks

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